Yes, people from America can visit Cuba legally!
In December 2014 President Obama greatly expanded legal Cuba travel opportunities for Americans. On January 16, 2015 his Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) issued regulations allowing nearly every American to visit Cuba without applying for a license. Legal Cuba Travel provides a summary of the new Cuba travel rules.
Good news update On September 21, 2015 President Obama announced additional Cuba travel opportunities. New rules permit family members to accompany an American who qualifies for any of the twelve categories below. For example a doctor is traveling to Cuba to conduct research. Her spouse or son may also travel with her even though the spouse or son does not qualify under the research category. A family member is defined as any individual related to a person by blood, marriage, or adoption who is no more than three generations removed from that person or from a common ancestor. Common law or live-in companions also qualify and are considered family members too.
You can go to Cuba legally without a license or paperwork as long as your purpose of travel fits into one of these US government approved categories:
- Educational activities in Cuba for schools, including people-to-people exchanges open to everyone
- Professional research and professional meetings in Cuba
- Public performances, clinics, workshops, athletic and other competitions, and exhibitions in Cuba
- Religious activities in Cuba
- Humanitarian projects in Cuba
- Journalistic activities in Cuba
- Family visits to close relatives in Cuba
- Activities in Cuba by private foundations, or research or educational institutes
- Any type of support for the Cuban people
- Exportation, importation, or transmission of information technologies or materials
- Certain authorized export transactions including agricultural and medical products, and tools, equipment and construction supplies for private use
- Official business of the US government, foreign governments, and certain intergovernmental organizations
If your travel falls within one of these categories you are automatically authorized to visit Cuba legally without having to apply for a license. There is no paperwork involved. You simply arrange travel and go to the island.
US visitors are required to engage in a full time itinerary of activities related to the above categories of travel.
Purely touristic travel such as relaxation stays at all-inclusive beach resorts is prohibited.
There is no limit on the amount of money you can spend in Cuba. Travelers can use US credit and debit cards in Cuba. Note US credit and debit cards are legal but do not yet function in Cuba. See Money matters in Cuba to prepare for Cuba’s unique currency system.
Travelers can return to the US with up to $400 of Cuban goods for personal use, including up to $100 of alcohol or tobacco products. Cuban artwork and informational materials are exempt from this limit.
If you have any question about these regulations please feel free to talk with one of our Cuba travel advisors at 1-888-965-5647, or email or chat with us online.